Epidemiology of lifetime fracture prevalence in England: a population study of adults aged 55 years and over

Age Ageing. 2014 Mar;43(2):234-40. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft167. Epub 2013 Nov 14.


Background: fractures remain a substantial public health problem but epidemiological studies using survey data are sparse. This study explores the association between lifetime fracture prevalence and socio-demographic factors, health behaviours and health conditions.

Methods: fracture prevalence was calculated using a combined dataset of annual, nationally representative health surveys in England (2002-07) containing 24,725 adults aged 55 years and over. Odds of reporting any fracture was estimated separately for each gender using logistic regression.

Results: fracture prevalence was higher in men than women (49 and 40%, respectively). In men, factors having a significant independent association with fracture included being a former regular smoker [odds ratios, OR: 1.18 (1.06-1.31)], having a limiting long-standing illness [OR: 1.47 (1.31-1.66)] and consuming >8 units of alcohol on the heaviest drinking day in the past week [OR: 1.65 (1.37-1.98)]. In women, significant factors included being separated/divorced [OR: 1.30 (1.10-1.55)], having a 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) score of 4+ [OR: 1.59 (1.27-2.00)], consuming >6 units of alcohol in the past week [OR: 2.07 (1.28-3.35)] and being obese [OR: 1.25 (1.03-1.51)].

Conclusion: a range of socio-demographic, health behaviour and health conditions, known to increase the risk of chronic disease and premature death, are also associated with fracture occurrence, probably involving the aetiological pathways of poor bone health and fall-related trauma.

Keywords: fracture sites; lifetime fracture prevalence; logistic regression; older people; respondent recall; risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnosis
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors